Strong Institutions in Weak Polities: State Building in Republican China, 1927-1940


Strong Institutions in Weak Polities explores state building and its supporting processes of institution-building in Republican China, focusing particularly on efforts to create strong, proactive central administrative organizations under exceptionally difficult circumstances between 1927 and 1940. After considering Nationalist efforts to establish a national civil service and examination system, it details the institution-building strategies pursued by three different central state organizations: the Sino-Foreign Salt Inspectorate, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Dr Strauss suggests that, far from being the morass of corruption and useless activity sometimes portrayed, all three of these organizations provided core services to the wider state building project, all were surprisingly successful and perceived to be of high status during their own time, and all pursued largely similar strategies of institution-building involving some combination of organizational insulation, bureaucratization around impersonal norms, and outwardly oriented goal achievement. This book will be of interest to all those involved in modern Chinese studies, comparative history, and politics, as well as to anyone interested in the nexus between state building and organization theory.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Oxford
Publication year:
  • 1998


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